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Sticky Korean Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps

May 18, 2023 | 0 comments

Juicy, gochujang laced beef, crunchy veggie toppings, a drizzle of spicy aioli and a soft, fresh lettuce leaf containing it all make these sticky Korean ground beef lettuce wraps the perfect bite of deliciousness. They take just 20 minutes, use mainly cupboard staples and are easy to adapt, based on what you have to hand.

Korean beef lettuce wraps on a wooden board, with lettuce on the side.

I remember the first time I tried a lettuce wrap like this. I didn’t expect it to be as delicious as it was. Perfectly spiced, juicy meat filling, loaded with crunchy, fresh veggie toppings encased in a soft, fresh lettuce leaf makes for an incredibly delicious bite that will surprise you. I also remember the first time I made these for my boyfriend. He’d insisted for years that he didn’t like lettuce wraps like this but it only took one bite to change his mind!

The key is in the bold flavours and the contrasting textures. Something juicy, something crunchy, something creamy and all packed with so much flavour.

It’s also an incredibly versatile recipe to have up your sleeve. While these are wonderful as lettuce wraps, you can turn them into loaded salad bowls, rice bowls, noodle bowls or pile everything on top of soft flatbreads. I’ve even served this beef mix in crispy wonton cups to make very cute and delicious party bites!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Super fast – it takes just 20 minutes (less if you multi-task and chop your veggies while the beef cooks).
  • Uses cheap and easy-to-find ingredients
  • Easy to customise – add different veggies, serve it over rice, toss it through noodles or chop your lettuce and serve as a loaded salad bowl.
  • Low-carb, high-protein and Keto friendly.

Ingredients

It may look like a lot of ingredients go into this recipe, but it’s mainly cupboard staples you probably already have.

Ingredients for Korean beef lettuce wraps laid out on a whtie marble background and labelled.
  • Ground beef (beef mince). I’m using lean ground beef here, but you can use one with a higher fat percentage too. You could also use ground pork, chicken or turkey.
  • Gochujang paste. This salty, sweet, deeply umami Korean fermented chilli paste is a huge favourite for me. It adds a delicious base to the sauce for the beef and I urge you to seek it out if you can. Larger grocery stores tend to stock it in the international/Asian aisle, or you can find it on Amazon. Sriracha would work as an alternative.
  • Sweet chilli jam. This is one of my most used ingredients and it adds a lovely sweet, spicy touch to the ground beef filling. I use my super easy sweet chilli jam recipe to make my own – but you can use any sweet chilli sauce.
  • Gem lettuce. I like using baby gem lettuce here because the little leaves are perfect for mini wraps, but you can play around. Ideally, you want to go for lettuce with soft, flexible leaves, so stay away from iceberg or lettuce that breaks easily.
  • White pepper. This is a common ingredient in a lot of Asian-style recipes, but if you only have black pepper, use that instead.

OPTIONAL: I love to add some more crunch with roasted peanuts, and you can up the spicy factor more with a drizzle of spicy aioli (I love using my 2-minute gochujang aioli).

How to make the wraps

Prep all your veggies – wash your lettuce, dice your cucumber and red pepper, and finely slice your scallions. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl, then set a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add your beef and cook, until browned, then add the ginger and garlic and stir through.

Once the beef is browned nicely, pour in your sauce and toss it through. Continue to cook the beef, stirring, for another couple of minutes until the sauce thickens and looks beautiful and glossy.

Once your beef is lovely and sticky, you’re ready to assemble your wraps. Pile the beef onto a lettuce leaf, top with the diced cucumber, red pepper, scallions, sesame seeds and mint, then scatter with roasted peanuts and spicy aioli if you’re using it. So easy, and so delicious.

Got a question?

What’s the best lettuce to use?

I like to use baby gem lettuce for cute mini wraps, but you can use any lettuce that has reasonably soft and pliable leaves. You want to be able to pick up the wraps without the lettuce cracking, so stay away from anything super crunchy, like iceberg lettuce.

How spicy are the wraps?

They’re reasonably mild – gochujang paste does have a hit of spice, but it’s balanced out by the sweet chilli and honey. If you’re worried, you can reduce the amount of gochujang you use to 1/2 a tablespoon. Taste the beef once it’s finished cooking and mixed with the sauce – if it’s too spicy, you can mix some more honey in to balance out the flavour.

Can I make them ahead of time?

This is a great meal prep recipe. You can prepare all the elements, and then just assemble the wraps when you’re ready to serve. The sticky beef will keep well for 5 days in the fridge, and the chopped vegetables will be fine for 5 days too.

Watch how to make them

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Korean beef lettuce wraps on a wooden board, with lettuce on the side.

Sticky Korean Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps


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  • Author: Kate Alexandra
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Low Fat

Description

Juicy, gochujang laced beef, crunchy veggie toppings, a drizzle of spicy aioli and a soft, fresh lettuce leaf containing it all makes these sticky Korean ground beef lettuce wraps the perfect bite of deliciousness. They take just 20 minutes, use mainly cupboard staples and are easy to adapt, based on what you have to hand.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1lb/500g ground beef (beef mince)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated (or 1 teaspoon ginger paste/ground ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang paste
  • 2 teaspoons sweet chilli jam (plus more to serve)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 baby gem lettuce
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 scallions (spring onions)
  • A handful of coriander (or use mint, Thai basil or flat-leaf parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang aioli (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare your toppings. Slice your cucumber in half lengthways, and scoop out the seeds with a small spoon. Slice into small cubes. Slice your bell pepper in half, then remove the middle and seeds. Cut into small dice. Finely slice your scallions. Separate the lettuce leaves from their stems and wash them well, then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  2. Mix the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of gochujang paste, 1 tablespoon of honey, 2 teaspoons of sweet chilli jam, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon of ground white pepper to a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
  3. Cook the ground beef. Set a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon, then let it sit and cook for a couple of minutes on one side. Stir the beef, cook for another minute, then add the 4 crushed garlic cloves and the grated ginger. Stir through the beef.
  4. Add the sauce. Once the beef is browned, pour in the sauce and stir it through the beef, until it’s well coated. Cook, stirring for another 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens up nicely. Taste, and add a little more salt or honey if you think it needs it.
  5. Assemble the cups. Lay out the washed and dried lettuce cups on a plate, then top with a few heaped tablespoons of ground beef. Scatter over a little of the diced cucumber, red pepper and scallions, then top with the sesame seeds, cilantro, roasted peanuts and a drizzle of gochujang aioli (if you’re using them). Serve right away.

Notes

INGREDIENT NOTES: This is a great recipe to adapt to whatever you have to hand. Add more vegetables – shredded cabbage or carrot would be great, as would avocado, bean sprouts, edamame beans, corn or really any crunchy vegetables that might be hanging out in your fridge drawer. Gochujang paste is a very delicious fermented Korean chilli paste and can be found in the international/Asian aisle of large grocery stores, or you can find it on Amazon.

SUBSTITUTIONS: Swap the ground beef for ground pork, chicken or turkey if you like. If you can’t find gochujang paste, use sriracha or another chilli sauce. Use black pepper if you don’t have white pepper.

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: The beef mix will keep well for 5 days, stored in the fridge, as will the chopped vegetables. You can also freeze the beef – just defrost it overnight in the fridge, on the counter or gently on the stovetop.

SWITCH IT UP: You could serve the beef and vegetables over steamed rice to make a loaded rice bowl, chop the lettuce and serve it as a loaded salad bowl or toss the beef through vermicelli or soba noodles to make a noodle salad if you like.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: fakeaways
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: asian

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 wraps
  • Calories: 342
  • Sugar: 11g
  • Sodium: 819.7mg
  • Fat: 13.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Fiber: 5.5g
  • Protein: 35.1g
  • Cholesterol: 75mg

Welcome!

I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.

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